Manchester United face a battle to lure two of their leading targets to the club in the January transfer window. After spending big last summer, Louis van Gaal has yet to dip into the transfer market this month, but is reportedly keen to bolster his defense and central midfield, with Borussia Dortmund’s Mats Hummels and Roma’s Kevin Strootman continuing to be strongly linked with moves to Old Trafford. There have been updates on both fronts in recent days.
Hummels, who is also thought to be interesting Arsenal, helped Germany to lift the World Cup last summer, but currently finds himself facing a relegation battle in the Bundesliga. Yet the center-back has again insisted that he has no desire to leave the club, although refused to rule it out entirely.
“I am not really known as a globetrotter,” he said, according to the Manchester Evening News. “I have been with two clubs in 26 years. Loyalty is important to me. The only thing I am concerned with right now is to play better than in the first half of the season. I was not satisfied at all with myself as one can imagine.
“I have gotten offers from different clubs ever since I have been with Dortmund. That’s not a secret. I have always decided not to leave. I think I have made some good decisions and I want to make those in the future as well.”
While a £35 million transfer to Manchester United has been mooted, it is unlikely that Dortmund will be persuaded to sell one of their key men midway through a season in which they are struggling to stay in the Bundesliga and remain in the Champions League.
Getting Strootman in this month’s transfer window will also prove a challenge. The midfielder was a key part of Van Gaal’s Netherlands setup before a serious knee injury last March forced him to sit out the World Cup. Even before returning to fitness last month, he had been linked with a move to join Van Gaal at Old Trafford, with rumors heating up in January.
Yet Strootman only recently stated that he saw his immediate future with Roma, having featured sparingly for the club he joined from PSV Eindhoven in the summer of 2013. Roma’s current ownership has shown in the past that they are willing to trade even key players if the price is right. But president James Palotta has stressed it will take a mammoth offer for them to consider losing the 24-year-old, who gave signs in the Rome derby this past weekend that he is beginning to return to his best.
“We want to put the best team on the pitch, that's the most important thing,” he told Bleacher Report. “But we're businessmen. If someone comes in with a stupid number for a player, you have to listen to it. You can't just say 'no, no matter what'. My view is that I don't want Kevin to go, for example, but if someone offers a huge amount, you at least have to listen to them.”
Another reported Manchester United midfield target who will come anything but cheaply is Paul Pogba. The 21-year-old France international, who left Old Trafford on a free transfer in the summer of 2012 to join Juventus, continues to be linked with a return to the Premier League giants. Just this week his agent Mino Raiola revealed that, despite having a contract until 2019, Pogba’s departure from the Italian champions is likely to come sooner rather than later. Speculation has now increased further on the back of comments Pogba made about his reasons for leaving United and the feelings he still has for the club, in an interview with British magazine Four Four Two.
“I'm impatient," he said. “It was the feeling I had. The coach [Sir Alex Ferguson] had faith in me, but didn't put me on. He said that I was too young. He said 'your time will come,' but it never did. It didn't come. But it does not mean I will speak ill of Manchester United. I love the club.”
Meanwhile, Palermo president Maurizio Zamparini has claimed that Manchester United have their eyes on another Serie A target. Argentinian forward Paulo Dybala has scored nine goals in 17 appearances in Italy’s top division this season, reportedly sparking interest in clubs from across Europe. According to Zamaparini, United are one of them, although he is in no rush to sell.
“Dybala is worth over 40 million euros (£31million), but I won't sell him until June,” Zamparini told Italian station Radio Due, reports Sky Sports. “Many foreign clubs asked after him, including Manchester United. I told the English side that he is not for sale right now, but we can talk about it again in six months. In my view, he is the best striker in Europe at the moment.”